Friday, 31 March 2017 15:07

Spring and Summer Film Checklist; Lyme Disease

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Last year, I wrote another blog titled Summer Film Checklist; about supplies, kits and clothing a costumer should include when working outdoors on a film. It’s good to check your kit at least once a year; to inventory the contents, replenish containers of low supplies and to add new items. 

All my original urgings of bringing warm, comfortable clothing, extra clothing, and sun and safety gear still apply, but this year, I’d like to talk about a threat that is common to everyone who works outside during the spring, summer and autumn months - Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease characterized by flu-like symptoms, caused by bacteria that is transmitted by ticks. 



Common tick habitats         

Ticks live in our favourite outdoor places; grassy fields, the woods, gardens, beaches and nature parks. Ticks need blood to survive, so they choose to live in habitats frequented by potential mammal hosts – such as White-Tailed Deer.  Areas with dense deer populations, like Alberta, are often Lyme disease hotspots. Keep this in mind when you are outdoors cleaning shoes, boots, retrieving discarded wardrobe or doing breakdown.

However, eastern Canada reports the highest rate of infection. Eastern and central Canadian provinces also share borders with Lyme “hotspots’ in the United States and are within flight distance for ticks catching rides on migratory birds.

Risk throughout Canada      

Eastern Canada and Manitoba show high rates of Lyme disease, but all Canadians are at risk for contracting Lyme because Infected ticks are found throughout Canada and areas that were once considered low-risk are quickly becoming higher risk areas as the ticks establish local populations. Important points to remember;

  • In areas of Canada that pose lower risk of Lyme disease, doctors may not be thinking of Lyme disease and often miss diagnosis during the easy-to-treat stage.
  • Remember that all Canadians have a risk of encountering an infected tick.
  • A person is most likely to contract Lyme disease from May through September, but it’s possible to be infected year-round – especially if you live in a high-risk area. Infection rates increase in the spring and summer months because the major species of Borrelia-infected ticks (Ixodes scapularis and I. pacificus) are in their nymphal stage, and harder to see.
  • Once a tick is infected with Borrelia, it remains a carrier until it dies.

Do you suspect you’ve contracted Lyme disease? 

There are specific steps you should take to improve your chances of receiving a proper diagnosis. Diagnosing Lyme disease is extremely challenging because Lyme victims are commonly misdiagnosed with other illnesses, and, when a proper diagnosis is made, it’s often difficult to verify because accurate testing isn’t available. If you discover a tick, don’t wait to have the tick tested or to develop symptoms. Seek treatment immediately. Experienced doctors diagnose Lyme disease clinically, meaning their diagnosis is based on an evaluation of your risk factors and your symptoms. You can assist your doctor in making a correct diagnosis by following our “Patient’s Checklist”.

Patient's Checklist - Before visiting your doctor…

  • Keep the tick for examinationI f you discover a tick on your body and remove it before visiting your doctor, keep the tick for future examination. It’s actually easier to test a tick for Lyme infection than to test a person. Contact your local CanLyme Area Support Team to learn about tick testing in your area.
  • Take photos of your rash A spreading or circular rash (sometimes referred to as a called a “bull’s-eye” rash) is a sign of Lyme infection. Lyme rashes usually only last a few days or weeks, so it’s important to get photos of the rash area so you can show them to your doctor after the rash has disappeared.
  • Make note of common Lyme symptoms There are certain symptoms that are characteristic of Lyme disease. Be sure to inform your doctor if you’ve experienced the following: strange rashes, flu-like symptoms, sore or stiff joints/bones and muscle cramping.
  • Try to remember when and how you were infected If you’ve spent time in well-known tick habitats – while filming, camping, hiking, gardening, etc. – your risk of contracting Lyme is higher. Knowing when you may have been exposed to Lyme will help your doctor to diagnose and treat the infection.
  • Keep a timeline of your symptoms Lyme is difficult to diagnose because of its many symptoms. Keeping a record of your symptoms can help your doctor to assess your condition and eliminate other potential illnesses. 
  • Mention CanLyme as a reference. CanLyme is Canada’s best resource for Lyme disease information, and they’ve developed a special section just for physicians.
  • Lyme is a relatively new disease in Canada, and many doctors won’t test/treat for Lyme because they’ve been misinformed about the rate of infection. Contact the CanLyme Area Support Team to find doctors near you that are knowledgeable about Lyme disease and the ILADS standard of care.


    Lyme disease symptoms can appear quickly or gradually over time, and they are incredibly varied and can wax and wane. The first physical signs of Lyme infection are often flu-like symptoms – sore throat, headaches, congestion, stiffness, etc. – so many people, including doctors, dismiss the symptoms as the flu or the common cold.

    During its nymph stage, a tick is only about the size of a period on a sentence. Many people are infected by nymph ticks, but don’t suspect Lyme disease because they don’t recall being bitten. In fact, 50% of people infected don’t remember being bitten and less than 50% of people will get any over-emphasized rash.

    Symptoms of Lyme disease ;

    Head, Face, Neck

    • Unexplained hair loss
    • Headache, mild or severe, seizures
    • Pressure in head, white matter lesions in brain (MRI)
    • Twitching of facial or other muscles
    • Facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy, Horner’s syndrome)
    • Tingling of nose, (tip of) tongue, cheek or facial flushing
    • Stiff or painful neck
    • Jaw pain or stiffness
    • Dental problems
    • Sore throat, clearing throat a lot, phlegm hoarseness, runny nose

    Eyes/Vision Double or blurry vision

    • Increased floating spots
    • Pain in eyes, or swelling around eyes
    • Oversensitivity to light
    • Flashing lights, peripheral waves or phantom images in corner of eyes


    • Decreased hearing in one or both ears, plugged ears
    • Buzzing in ears
    • Pain in ears, oversensitivity to sounds
    • Ringing in one or both ears

    Digestive and Excretory Systems

    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Irritable bladder (trouble starting, stopping) or interstitial cystitis
    • Upset stomach (nausea or pain) or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

    Musculoskeletal System

    • Bone pain, joint pain or swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Stiffness of joints, back, neck, tennis elbow
    • Muscle pain or cramps, (Fibromyalgia)

    Respiratory and Circulatory Systems

    • Shortness of breath, can’t get full/satisfying breath, cough
    • Chest pain or rib soreness
    • Night sweats or unexplained chills
    • Heart palpitations or extra beats
    • Endocarditis, heart blockage

    Neurologic System

    • Tremors or unexplained shaking
    • Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
    • Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, weakness, peripheral neuropathy or partial paralysis
    • Pressure in the head
    • Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
    • Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
    • Increased motion sickness
    • Light-headedness, wooziness

    Psychological Well-being

    • Mood swings, irritability, bi-polar disorder
    • Unusual depression
    • Disorientation (getting or feeling lost)
    • Feeling as if you are losing your mind
    • Over-emotional reactions, crying easily
    • Too much sleep, or insomnia
    • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • Narcolepsy, sleep apnea
    • Panic attacks, anxiety

    Mental Capability

    • Memory loss (short or long term)
    • Confusion, difficulty thinking
    • Difficulty with concentration or reading
    • Going to the wrong place
    • Speech difficulty (slurred or slow)
    • Difficulty finding commonly used words
    • Stammering speech
    • Forgetting how to perform simple tasks

    Reproduction and Sexuality

    • Loss of sex drive
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Unexplained menstrual pain, irregularity
    • Unexplained breast pain, discharge
    • Testicular or pelvic pain

    General Well-being

    • Phantom smells
    • Unexplained weight gain or loss
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
    • Unexplained fevers (high or low grade)
    • Continual infections (sinus, kidney, eye, etc.)
    • Symptoms seem to change, come and go
    • Pain migrates (moves) to different body parts
    • Early on, experienced a “flu-like” illness, after which you have not since felt well
    • Low body temperature
    • Allergies or chemical sensitivities
    • Increased effect from alcohol and possible worse hangover


    To purchase a Tick Removal Kit or If you need further information, 

    contact the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation,


    10 Tips for High-Risk Areas

  • Use insect repellant with 20% DEET or higher on your skin and clothing. Carefully apply the repellent by hand to your face, neck, and ears. You may need to reapply DEET products after several hours.
  • Apply permethrin to clothing, hiking boots, tents and camp chairs. Permethrin products should never be used on skin. It remains effective on clothing through several washings. Permethrin is also sold under the names Permanone and Duranon.
  • Outfit yourself in bug repellent apparel. Want a sporty, outdoor look with built-in tick protection? Sporting goods stores often sell clothing that is pretreated with permethrin. The treatment lasts for up to 70 washes.
  • Wear long pants with sneakers or hiking boots. Tuck your pant legs into your socks, and keep your shirt tucked into your waistband. In areas where ticks are abundant, you may even want to wrap duct tape around your ankles, over the top of your socks. You’ll look ridiculous, but it makes it harder for ticks to find your skin.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing. You’ll have a better chance of seeing a dark tick crawling on you before it makes its way to your skin.
  • Stay on the trail. Ticks hang out in high vegetation, waiting for a passing host. When your leg brushes through the vegetation, the tick transfers to your body. Walk on designated trails, and avoid blazing your own through meadows or other high vegetation areas.
  • Avoid tick-infested places. In some places, ticks may be too abundant to avoid, even with the best repellents and long pants. If you venture a few feet into a wooded area or field and find your legs covered with ticks, get out of there and remove all ticks!.
  • Be vigilant – do a daily tick check. Strip down and search all those places that ticks love to hide: in your hair, under your arms, between your legs, behind the knees, and even in your belly button.
  • Put your clothes in the dryer, and tumble them on high heat. Research shows many ticks can make it through the washing machine, even when you wash in hot water. Most ticks will die during a cycle in the hot, dry air of your clothes dryer, though.
  • Check your pets and your kids before letting them loose in the house. Ticks can  drop off on carpets or furniture..
  •  If you need further information, contact the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation,  or to order the Tick Removal Kit;

    TICK REMOVAL KIT, for your first-aid kit, or glove box, with tick identification cards, 3 styles of tick removers (ie, if tick is in your ear or a pet’s ear a different tick remover size and style are required), magnifying glass, antiseptic wipe, container to put tick into, instructions for proper tick removal, etc.


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    The Costumer's Notebook,

    The book The Costumer's Notebook is a 295 page comprehensive handbook for Costumers for stage and film including a full Glossary of stage and film industry terms. Sections include methods and tricks for laundry, dyeing, breakdown, Dresser guidelines and protocols for Stage or Film and various size charts for men and women from shoes to gloves. Other Sections include diagrams showing How to Iron A Shirt, How to Tie a Tie and How to Tie a Bow Tie. Costume fittings, costume lay out and costume storage are also discussed.